Rubin, Chanda 1976–
Chanda Rubin 1976–
Professional tennis player
Chanda Rubin was formerly ranked the number six tennis player in the world, until a series of hand and knee surgeries and other health problems intermittently kept her off the courts for several years. But she overcame what would look to others as insurmountable obstacles, and in 2002 was back on the courts, competing well in the major tournaments on the circuit and surpassing expectations. In The Record, she credited the example of her parents, who taught her to “appreciate early on the value of hard work, setting a goal, and working to it and through it.”
Born on February 18, 1976, in Lafayette, LA; Louisiana, Rubin grew up with a tennis court literally in her back yard. As a young girl of five, she awoke from a nap one day to find the house empty. Frightened, she finally found her parents playing tennis. Still in her red nightgown, she grabbed a racket, went outside, and demanded to join the game. Rubin began formal group lessons the following year, and her skill was so great that she was competing at age seven.
Despite her early prowess, Rubin would continue to have only group lessons until she was about 14. Unlike many athletes who show talent quite young, Rubin’s parents were determined that she would have a normal life. She told Online Sports that, “my parents are very concerned about every aspect of my life. They insist that I’m balanced, that I’d be able to play tennis and have a life outside the court. For that, I’m grateful.”
Although her mother, Bernadette, a retired teacher, loved tennis as a child and encouraged that interest in her children, both she and husband Edward, a judge, made sure the three Rubin children also understood the value of education. Both Edward, who had grown up in a family of eleven children, and Bernadette had been the first in either family to graduate college, Bernadette attending only after her family sold a prize hog to earn the funds. All three of the Rubin children, Chanda, older sister LaShon, a teacher, and younger brother Edward, would indeed stay in school. In 1993 Rubin graduated with honors from Episcopal School of Acadiana, in Cade, Louisiana.
In 1988, at the tender age of 11, Rubin won the age 12 and under National Championship, and the following year she won again in the age 14 and under category. At age 14, Rubin was chosen for the national team by
At a Glance …
B orn on February 16, 1976, in Lafayette, LA; daughter of Bernadette and Edward Rubin. Education: Episcopal School of Acadiana, Cade, LA, 1993.
Career: Professional tennis player, 1991-.
Memberships: USTA Junior Team; USTA National Team.
Awards: Orange Bowl, 1988; National Championship, 1988; National Championship, 1989; Wimbledon Junior Singles, 1992; ATA Athlete of the Year, 1995; USTA Female Athlete of the Year, 1995; U.S. Olympic Committee Athlete of the Year, 1995; Sanex WTA Most Improved Player, 1995; Pan Am Games, Silver and Bronze Medal, 1995; Louisiana Special Olympics Outstanding Celebrity Award, 1996; USA Weekend magazine Most Caring Athlete, 1997; Arthur Ashe Leadership Award, 1997; Family Circle/Hormel Foods Player Who Makes a Difference Award, 2002.
Address: USTA, 70 W Red Oak Lane, White Plains, NY 10604-3602.
the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the youngest player ever to be selected. She would also become the only player without an 18 and under national championship win to be granted a U.S. Open wild card draw.
Just a year later, at age 15, Rubin won the Wimbledon Girls’ Singles Championship, a major win, and turned pro that same year. But her parents’ desire that she finish school was not far from her. Rubin elected to skip the French Open entirely rather than miss her senior prom and graduation, an amazing decision for someone who, just the year before, was ranked second in world juniors.
Rubin continued to play against the world’s best, and her fame spread. A series of major wins, including the Wimbledon Grand Slam Singles, seemed to seal her fate as the player to watch. The media dubbed her “the new great Black hope.” She was, in effect, the poster child for the success of minority women in the sport, as Zina Garrison-Jackson had been for her. The famous Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, who first came in personal contact with her at a 1995 tennis clinic, looked to the older Rubin as a role model, a trailblazer. 1995 proved to be a fantastic year for Rubin, one in which it seemed she could do no wrong. Selected as Athlete of the Year by the American Tennis Association (ATA) and as the Female Athlete of the Year by the USTA, she was also honored with her own day. September 12, 1995 was declared “Chanda Rubin Day” in Lafayette, Louisiana, her hometown.
In 1996 Rubin was ranked the world’s number one American-born player. Tapped for the Olympic tennis team, Rubin was at the top of her game. Even the United States Postal Service got on the bandwagon, issuing a Rubin recreational sports stamp. But the Olympics were not to be. Rubin was forced to withdraw due to a stress fracture in her wrist, an injury which forced her to sit out most of the season, and the first of several injuries and surgeries that would keep her off the courts over the next few years. Not to be deterred, Rubin worked constantly to recover and get back onto the court. Longtime coach and friend Benny Sims, told The Chicago Tribune that “I’ve been around athletics all my life and I’ve never seen anybody rehab as religiously as Chanda.”
After recovering from her 1996 wrist injury, Rubin returned to the courts. In 1997 she played the first game at the new U.S. Open Arthur Ashe Stadium. The following year, she reached the third round at Wimbledon, and in 1999 she reached the fourth round at the Australian Open. Rubin also played well in 2000, but the following year brought yet another injury, this time to her Achilles tendon. Later that year Rubin would also undergo arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear. A second surgery on her knee came in 2002, causing her to miss most of the season, including the Australian Open, a competition in which she had competed every year for a decade. Rubin simply wasn’t the type to be stopped by frustrating losses and surgeries. As she told The Knight/Ridder Tribune News Service, “If the worst thing I have to go through is surgery so I can continue to play tennis, I’m doing pretty well.”
In May of that year, she was back. The very next month, at Eastbourne, she emerged as the champion, winning the biggest title of her career. This made her only the second number one unseeded player in the history of the tournament. She went on to compete in Wimbledon, playing her best to date in that tournament. Also in 2002, she defeated top players Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, and Jelena Dokic in the U.S. Open. She reached the fourth round before finally falling to Venus Williams on September 3, 2002.
Despite her incredible comeback, Rubin continued to find many interests to occupy her time and attention. In the fall of 2002 she appeared in a special “Cable in the Classroom” program on math and science, demonstrating potential energy. She remained involved in many organizations, supporting such groups as Athletes Against Drugs, the Children’s Museum, the American Heart Association, Wheelchair Tennis, the Bishop Charity Fund, the United Negro College Fund, Special Olympics, the Womens Sports Foundation, and, of course, the Chanda Rubin Tennis Foundation.
With her foundation, Rubin raised money for tennis programs in several Louisiana schools. She was the recipient of several awards, including Most Caring Athlete from USA Weekend, the Arthur Ashe Leadership Award, the Louisiana Special Olympics Outstanding Celebrity Award, and the Family Circle/Hormel Foods Player Who Makes a Difference Award. Rubin never forgot to think about and give to others. She also conducted several free tennis clinics annually, with special emphasis on introducing minority females to the sport. She has been recognized for her work with youth, especially those who are disabled or disadvantaged.
In her limited free time, Rubin liked to watch sports, ride horses, and read. The future of her tennis career was just another challenge to Rubin, and as she told The Record, “I’ve never … backed down from a challenge. That’s not the way I go out there and the way I’m made up and the way I feel about myself. A challenge is just that, something you have to push yourself a little harder to overcome. You have to work a little bit better, be a little bit better.”
The Complete Marquis Who’s Who, Marquis Who’s Who, 2001.
Sports Stars, Gale Group, 1994-98.
The Australian, September 5, 2002.
Essence, August 1996, p. 52.
Jet, August 12, 1996, p. 50.
Knight/Ridder Tribune News Service, September 1, 2002.
The New York Times, September 4, 2002.
The Record, September 2, 2002.
Sports Illustrated, April 19, 1993, p. 62.
The Star-Ledger, September 4, 2002.
—Helene Barker Kiser
"Rubin, Chanda 1976–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rubin-chanda-1976
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